The renowned runway shows of Paris, Milan and New York present the latest looks from design houses and influence styles around the world. Now it’s Lexington’s turn to showcase the best of local designers.
The Lexington Fashion Collaborative will debut the first Kentucky FashionWeek Monday through Thursday. Events will include a runway show on Wednesday at the 21c Museum Hotel featuring the works of Kentucky fashion designers.
So, why’d it take so long?
“People don’t associate fashion with Kentucky,” said Edd MacKey, of the Lexington Fashion Collaborative, organizer of the event.
“Yes, we are horses and yes, we are bourbon. The women and men of Kentucky, they are well presented, that’s proven at every Derby event annually.
“But what we do has never been showcased in terms of fashion, other than Derby time. So this gives an opportunity for locals to dress up and be styled and for local designers who are totally, totally under the radar, to have a stage and a presence,” he said.
Opening the Wednesday runway show will be Mindy Leigh Blakeman, an emerging designer from Tompkinsville. While she’s relatively new to the world of design, the 28-year-old Navy veteran is already passionate about her work. A full-time student at Western Kentucky University, a wife and mother with an 18-month-old son, she still makes time to sew and create.
Inspirations include mermaids and the fantastical gowns of the design house, Stella de Libero. Blakeman’s pieces feature ornate accents that include studs and sculptural flowers.
“I have one piece that I have hand-sewn every single jewel that is on the front of the corset,” she said. “It’s a white corset with this blue and green beading on it. It took so long to do it. Just the beading alone probably took me a couple of weeks. I think that’s why it’s my favorite probably, because of all the work that went into that one.”
The featured designer at Wednesday’s show will be Chandra Peyton of Louisville. The name of her company is Dauphine of France Couture, with a nod to Marie Antoinette, 18th-century queen of France known for her lavish apparel before the whole beheading thing.
Originally from Brooklyn, Peyton has been designing clothes for more than 25 years. And she still gets excited when describing this year’s collection called “Othello.”
“This year we are a type of regal Gothic. We like Morticia Addams, Wednesday Addams, ‘Penny Dreadful,’ ‘American Horror Story,’” she said.
Growing up she was “… the little girl in the room that laughed during the horror movies when we were kids. All of the children were hiding and I’m like, ‘Did you see her dress?’
Her daughter, Natira Simone Harvin, will be among the models walking the runway, wearing Peyton’s dramatic haute couture shapes and cuts during Kentucky FashionWeek.
“There will be many afterward, but this is the first,” said Peyton. “It actually shows that fashion is alive and well in Kentucky. You don’t have to go anywhere else to find it. It is right here.”
Harriett Hendren: 859-231-3175
If you go
Kentucky FashionWeek Kickoff with Give Into the Groove. 11:45 a.m.-1 p.m. Monday. Fifth Third Pavilion at Cheapside Park, 251 W. Main St. Free.
Runway fashion show. 7:30-8:45 p.m. Wednesday. 21c Museum Hotel Ballroom, 167 W. Main St.
Second annual Kentucky Fashion & Film Awards with a screening of the 2014 film “Yves Saint Laurent.” 6:20 p.m. Kentucky Theatre, 214 E. Main St.
Cost: Tickets include admission to runway shoe and award show. $55 VIP, $35 general admission. Eventbright.com.